Compulsive Hoarding: Current Research and Theory

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Compulsive hoarding has emerged as a treatment refractory and impairing psychological disorder. Although promising research over the past decade has substantially furthered an understanding of hoarding, the etiology, diagnostic status, and associated features of this phenomenon are not yet completely understood. This article reviews current research on hoarding, including comorbidity and diagnostic issues, theoretical models, and treatment approaches. A cognitive–behavioral model of compulsive hoarding (R. O. Frost and G. Steketee, 1998) is presented, including the proposed information-processing deficits, beliefs and cognitions, and excessive emotional attachment to possessions. In addition, existing treatment approaches that target the cognitive and behavioral components of acquisition, difficulty organizing, and avoidance of discarding are described. Future directions for compulsive hoarding research are suggested to improve diagnostic clarity, refine therapeutic techniques, and enhance treatment response.